When a plant that requires sunlight to grow is stuck in the shade, it will adapt by bending in the direction of the sun. Likewise, Gaza’s residents are adapting to a period of energy depredation by creating alternative solutions. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to be innovative in Gaza.
Either explosions occur that undo months of creative work, or it is impossible to order in necessary supplies. One young man, an accounting student at Gaza University, has developed a cell phone chip that can control generators. He expects that this invention will prevent unnecessary generator explosions that have to date claimed more than two dozen lives.
In 2006, according to Xinhuan’s English News, Israel bombed Gaza’s only power plant. Soon thereafter the Palestinians and Egyptians managed to piece it back together, though Israel then deemed it unsafe to allow too much fuel into Gaza. By then, Hamas had taken control.
Eventually Israel agreed to rationed diesel fuel, just enough to meet the electricity demand. Because of scuffles between Hamas and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), however, Gaza still does not have sufficient energy, so many residents acquired small electric generators that are then mounted on roofs. When power cuts occur, and they occur frequently, residents turn to the generators for their power needs.
Either the generators do not come with a manual or those manuals are scarcely understood since egregious misuse has frequently caused generators to explode, resulting in 26 casualties to date. It is this type of preventable harm that university student Abu Ouda hopes to avert with a cell phone chip that activates the generator when a certain number is dialed.
“If there is a power blackout, the generator could be operated only through the phone. But the generator could never be operated if there is electricity, so it’s very safe,” he told the paper.
“What make me think of such an invention are the fatal accidents caused by explosions of generators in Gaza,” Abu Ouda told Xinhuan News, adding “innocent people were killed due to the misuse of generators and the ongoing electricity crisis.”
Residents are often without power for eight hours at a stretch, either during the day or at night. The generators offer some reprieve, though sometimes at a cost that Mr. Ouda’s invention should forestall.
“I believe that it is the first ever experience in the Gaza Strip to operate an electric generator safely using a cell phone,” Abu Ouda told the paper. Though he acknowledges that his invention will be rendered redundant once the power situation is resolved, he hopes such a resolution will occur very soon.
:: Xinhuan News
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image via Mar Estrama